More spaces for people: street improvements for COVID-19 recovery and beyond

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Woman cycling in bike lane

Yarra Council is trialling changes to some street spaces to offer more opportunity for physical distancing, active and sustainable transport, and neighbourly connections.

A range of new measures, which include trialling additional cycling routes, streets that are more pedestrian friendly, were decided on at a Council Meeting last night. Yarra has also been trialling pop-up gathering spaces.

“As our city moves towards a new normal post COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to reconsider what normal should look like,” said Yarra Mayor, Cr Misha Coleman.

“One of the ways we can do this, while also aiding recovery, is by creating more safe routes to ride and walk,” Cr Coleman said.

“The intention would be to trial some of these measures and see how they might work in the longer term.”

These changes are an example of what local government can do to keep the community healthy in the short term by helping preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Changes like these are necessary right now because we need space for physical distancing while still going about our lives. We need to be able to move around safely, whether it’s going to the shops, walking to school, exercising, heading to work, or socialising.” Cr Coleman said.

“But they also present an opportunity to ‘build back better’, and promote healthier, safer, livelier, and friendlier streets in the long term.” 

The proposed actions come out of  Yarra’s newly released Climate Emergency Plan, which commits to responding to the climate crisis while recovering from the pandemic.

Councillors decided on the specific actions at a Council Meeting Tuesday 23 June.

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Moved: Councillor Bosler                               Seconded: Councillor Fristacky

1.       That Council note the officers report as requested by the Council resolution on 5 May, 2019 regarding opportunities to create improved spaces for cycling and physical distancing, and support for local businesses regarding the current COVID-19 circumstances.  
2.       That Council note the actions of officers to date and also note the options presented in this report for Council consideration. 
3.       That Council. having noted the contents of the report and considered the options presented, authorise officers: 
          (a)        to proceed with the implementation of the proposed COVID-19 Response Trials, as outlined in Option 1 with the following changes: 

                      (i)      the removal of “mid-block closure of Wellington St” and replaced with 

                                a.    the deletion of the left car turn lane at the Johnson St / Wellington St intersection (i.e. north east corner – city bound), and for that lane to be turned into cycle only lane; and

                                b.    and the deletion of the left car turning lane at the Alexandra Parade / Wellington St intersection (i.e. the north east corner- city bound) and for that lane to be turned into cycle only lane;

                     (ii)      the removal of the “closure of Coppin St” proposal to be replaced with:

                                a.    the deletion of the left car turning lane along Coppin Street / Bridge Road (i.e. the north east and south west corners) to be replaced with marked cycle  only lanes;

                     (iii)     the removal of the closure at Trenerry Crescent at this point in time until such time as consultation with the local community occurs and a report back to Council outlining submissions received;

                     (iv)     noting the intention in the report of pop-up bi-directional bicycle lanes on Park street to remedy congestion on the Capital City Trail for Park Street, North    Carlton is in fact designed for North Fitzroy, but that priority be given to consideration of emergency implementation of a pop-up bi-directional bicycle lane on Park Street, North Carlton to deal with congestion of the Capital City Trail through North Carlton.

          (b)      to initially implement trials currently approved by Council, where DoT approval has already been obtained, or is not required;
          (c)      to obtain any formal approvals required from the Department of Transport (DoT) and advise Council if any of the trials are not be supported by DoT;
          (d)      to inform the community of the upcoming trials and advise why Council is taking this approach and the timing for the implementation of each trial;
          (e)      to deliver the trials on the basis that the trials are:

                    (i)      reviewed immediately (at any time) if there is an identified safety issue;

                   (ii)      reviewed 3 months post implementation to allow the community time to adjust and adapt to the changes; and

                   (iii)     fully evaluated 12 months post implementation to identify whether the trials have been a success and whether there is any demand to continue with any trial; and

          (f)       to undertake ongoing monitoring to identify any need to adapt or end any trail post the 3 month review, if it is identified that:

                     (i)      that the trial is not meeting the objectives; and/or

                    (ii)      there is an alternative trial or outcome that better meets the needs of the community; and/or

                    (iii)     the trial is having an unacceptable impact on infrastructure or operations managed by DoT (as determined by DoT and agreed with Council);

          (g)      to continue to receive submissions from the community and prioritise these submissions using the Assessment Tool and according to available resources;
          (h)      to continue to work with DoT and neighbouring Council’s to identify and further investigate joint projects;
           (i)      to continue to liaise with the local business community and explore possible options to assist with physical distancing requirements; 
           (j)      to explore external funding opportunities to support these and other initiatives in response to the impacts of COVID-19; and
           (k)     to investigate and report to Council on any Future Stage COVID-19 Response Trials as part of Council’s transport, movement and access response to COVID.
4.        That Council further resolve to: 
           (a)     require officers to undertake an assessment throughout Yarra of where safety to cyclists could be improved through new green paint surface (or where it is fading    and needs some re-application), and / or where the installation of plastic lane dividers would improve cyclist safety in designated bike lanes, and 
           (b)     request officers to prioritise where these could be arranged within existing budget allocations and action.


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